The hazel tree – corylus avellana – can grow up to 12m in the wild and live for 80 years, but if coppiced in can live for several centuries. Coppiced hazel woods provide safe places for ground nesting birds, whilst they are also key environments for dormice who eat both the nuts in autumn and, in the spring, the caterpillars that feed on hazel leaves. The hazel’s yellow catkins are a sign of spring and an early source of food for bees.
Hazel wood is very flexible and ideal for making woven hurdles, baskets and spars for thatching. Its flexible branches are also used for water dowsing. Coppiced wood provides strong poles for fencing, walking sticks and furniture making. Hazel wood is also used to make gypsy clothes pegs.
Hazels are also grown for their nuts, although most nuts used in the UK are imported.
The mystic Julian of Norwich saw in a vision something that looked as small and as insignificant as a hazelnut:- [The Lord] showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, and to my mind’s eye it was as round as any ball. I looked at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And the answer came to me, ‘It is all that is made.’ I wondered how it could last, for it was so small I thought it might suddenly disappear. And the answer in my mind was, ‘It lasts and will last because God loves it; and in the same way everything exists through the love of God.’
We love because God first loved us. 1 John 4:19